With the NBA Draft come and gone, it has made us nostalgic for former UCLA basketball players, so Go Joe Bruin looks at what could have been if the Bruins did not have any one-and-dones and early exits.
Have you wondered what the UCLA basketball depth chart would look like in 2019-20 if former players did not leave early? If so, you are in luck as Go Joe Bruin takes a gander at the roster if players stayed for the entirety of their eligibility.
Though it would look completely different from what we have now, especially as it would affect recruiting in the last four years, we look at all the talent the Bruins have had at their disposal and what they could offer to the team this coming season.
Also, keep an open mind as this would go beyond the 13 scholarship limit. This is simply to see what could have been if players remained at UCLA for all four years.
UCLA Basketball Depth Chart Without Early Exits
- PG: Lonzo Ball (Sr), Jaylen Hands (Jr), Tyger Campbell (R-Fr)
- SG: David Singleton (S0), Jules Bernard (So), Prince Ali (R-Sr)
- SF: Kris Wilkes (Jr), Chris Smith (Jr) Jaime Jaquez (Fr), Jake Kyman (Fr)
- PF: TJ Leaf (Sr), Cody Riley (R-So), Shareef O’Neal (R-Fr), Alex Olesinski (S-Sr)
- C: Ike Anigbogu (Sr), Moses Brown (So), Jalen Hill (R-So), Kenny Nwuba (So)
Before I get into the implication of how dominant this team would, carefully look at the chart again and take in the talent this team would have.
Having a starting five of Ball, Singelton, Wilkes, Leaf, and Anigbogu would give the Bruins the talent and skills needed to have UCLA playing at the top of their game, but when you look to see how deep this team would be, it boggles the mind.
Having a senior Ball on the team would change everything. His presence would have kept the Bruins in the Top 25 every year he played in Westwood (pending he stayed healthy). On top fo that, he would elevate everyone else’s game. And can you imagine what a defensive presence he would have been with Cronin’s guidance?
The point guard position would have depth but would have a slight dropoff, but the development of Hands and Campbell under Cronin would better prepare them for their later seasons of eligibility and the NBA.
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At shooting guard, Singleton and Bernard would bring consistency. I would even go so far as to say they could be a reliable shooting trio with Kyman in the mix, which might be a good thing to switch him to the 2-spot as he might be buried at the 3.
The small forward position brings an interesting set of characters. Wilkes, at this point, is the most talented of all the SFs but he would need to work on his consistency, which would have improved under Cronin. With Smith, you would also have a long wingman to stretch the defense, and with Jaquez, you have a small forward that could shoot from the outside and drive the lane to attack the basket.
Now the fun begins as we look at the big men. The power forward spot would be stacked with talent. With the knowledge of what Leaf and Ball did in one year, imagine what could have been at UCLA for the last two season. Now imagine that they are seasoned vets on this Bruins squad who are dominating the college basketball landscape with Cronin as their guide. But it gets better! Having the tough, offensive-minded Riley and O’Neal back up the athletic Leaf would give Cronin a ton of options to work with in the paint.
That goes double for the centers as the Bruins would have a few defensive-minded players to help execute Cronin’s plan. Having Anigbogu anchor the lineup would give the Bruins a big body most teams would not want to challenge, but then they have to try and get past the 7’1 Brown off the bench (oh, can you imagine the player Brown could have turned into under Cronin? Sigh.) And then, as a third option, the recently-developing Hill would be another defensive center teams would have to plan around.
Though this is pure fantasy, it is fun to see what kind of team UCLA might have been able to put on the court if certain players stayed. Though the team would not be allowed to utilize 18 different players, it was a nice mental exercise to imagine what could have been.